Las Vegas — ENX Magazine spoke with several dealers during Kyocera’s Fiscal Year 2018 Business and Technology Conference, held here April 18-20, to understand their perspectives on the company, the conference and how to succeed in this competitive market. Part two of our series features Kevin Horner from PTS Office Solutions in La Cruces, NM.
Kevin, you’ve been in this industry for a while. How do you see the business changing?
Horner: The whole industry is changing, and it’s changing so fast. What we were talking about last year is not what we’re talking about now. Managed Print Services was the huge buzzword two years ago. Then last year it was Managed IT Services. Now it’s more about application services plus all the others. It’s not just selling a box anymore.
So, if it’s not just about the price of the box, what sets you apart from everyone else?
Horner: It’s the applications. We’ve embraced the tools and services KDA is offering. Their apps are very inexpensive, easy to understand, and easy to use. For example, we use the teaching assistant app at schools all the time. It’s not just easy to understand and use – it’s easy to sell. Kyocera offers it free 30 days to try and, honestly, the stick rate is nearly 100 percent once they’re in. One school’s principal had a teacher come to him asking why the teaching assistant app wasn’t working after the trial period and insisted that they had to take it. The apps work so well that we’re requiring our people to activate all the free apps on the machines and to show them to the customers so they’re there for them if needed.
And has this affected the way you do business?
Horner: Sure, we used to be box sellers like everyone else, but now we have stepped up and seen a huge difference. What we’ve learned is that we have to provide a constant effort to educate customers on how to better use what they already have. We had a local school district in the office for a scanning lunch-and-learn. We showed them the capability of the equipment they already had, to use the scanning and free cloud applications, and how this could migrate printing off desktop printers and other money-saving ideas. It’ll take them a while to really implement this throughout their district, but they no longer think of us as a copier provider. I think that approach is one reason why we’re currently in a growth state with about 2,000 customers covered by several branch offices across the state of New Mexico.
What kinds of challenges do you see?
Horner: Our greatest challenge is finding the people who can really understand customers and how to solve their problems. Let me know if you have an answer to that one. We used to hire people and see how they did for six months. We can no longer do that. We really have to carefully identify people with the necessary skills and abilities right from day one. Of course, working with and motivating Millennials is also a new challenge. Fortunately, technology gives us the ability to push work to the cloud is so that people can work at home in the evenings rather than having to be stuck in the office during traditional office hours.
And, to wrap up, what are your opinions about Kyocera and the conference?
Horner: I’ve been a part of the KDA dealer council since it began. There are 12 of us on the council and a lot of the concepts you see here came from that group. Kyocera does a tremendous job of listening and implementing our suggestions. For example, KDA’s new toner recycling program came out of the council. We also provided a lot of input on the new dealer portal and beta tested it for them. They really listened to what we were saying and it’s a lot easier to work with.
The other thing about Kyocera is that they’ve always stuck with their dealers. That isn’t always the case with the other manufacturers. Five or six years ago, the others were all going away from dealers in favor of using their direct sales channels and now they’re coming back to the dealer model. Kyocera never did that and, as a result, they have established trainers and support groups in place to train and work with our people. They sometimes go on sales calls with my people to show them what can be done and they almost corner the market. It’s a great relationship.